Two weeks ago, an unnamed EU official told Handelsblatt that it was “completely absurd” to think that Greece would be able to make a €750 million payment to the IMF on May 12. Essentially, the official said, it was logistically impossible. Impossible that is, unless you use money which is already at the IMF to pay the bill, then it becomes not only possible, but very easy logistically, even as the sheer absurdity of tapping SDR reserves to pay the Fund makes it very difficult to swallow politically.
At the time, we said the following: "So while things do not look particularly promising in terms of avoiding a Greek default in just 10 days' time, Athens can always (re)play the war reparations card." As it turns out, we were right on the money (no pun intended) because Greece did indeed effectively default, and now we learn that Syriza is once again playing the war reparations card, this time by looping a video of the Nazi occupation on public transportation.
Greece is stepping up pressure on Germany to pay billions in compensation for war damages by running a video depicting Nazi crimes.
The 50-second video, displayed on public transportation in Athens, features graphic images of wartime suffering, including people starving to death, children being sent to concentration camps, and villages being destroyed. The video's tagline is: "We claim what Germany owes to us."
"The focus (of the campaign) is to rescue the historical memory of the Greek people," said Kyriakos Zilakos, a Greek Defense Ministry spokesman.
Athens claims Germany owes Greece 279 billion euros ($317 billion) in reparations for war damages. Berlin has firmly rejected the claim and said the matter has long been closed. Germany paid Greece 115 million marks in 1960, as required by reparation agreements. On top of that, it also paid compensation directly to individual victims of the Nazi regime in Greece -- forced laborers, for example.
But the Greek government is now saying the past payments were not enough.
"The issue of German debt is above all an ethical issue and the whole campaign aims at closing the wounds of the past," Zilakos said.
First, it’s worth mentioning that there’s something rather ironic about attempting to stir up an acute sense of nationalism via a video about Nazis , but irony aside, there’s also something a bit unnerving about the fact that the Greek government is now so desperate for cash that they are willing to sear WW II images into the minds of commuters, heightening already elevated anti-German sentiment in the process.
Meanwhile, Greece is selling off its largest port in an effort to raise cash and appease creditors. Here’s Reuters:
Greece on Thursday offered a concession to its international lenders by pushing ahead with the sale of its biggest port, Piraeus.
Greece has asked three firms to submit bids for a majority stake in the port, a senior privatisation official told Reuters, unblocking a major sale of a public asset as the EU and the IMF demand economic reforms from Athens.
Despite the conciliatory move, Germany's Bundesbank showed no sign of easing off on its hardline stance towards Greece.
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann criticised weekly top-ups of emergency funding to Greek banks, saying in a German newspaper interview that this broke a taboo against the European central banking system financing governments.
As for Varoufakis, well … he dreams in drachma:
“I wish we had the drachma, I wish we had never entered this monetary union. And I think that deep down all member states with the eurozone would agree with that now. Because it was very badly constructed. But once you are in, you don’t get out without a catastrophe”